The 2nd Sudanese Civil War commenced in the 1980's. This was a time of extreme turmoil and poverty in Sudan which was a former British colony. The war which is often believed to have been based on racial and religious conflicts between the warring tribes caused thousands of deaths and the destruction of the agricultural sector of the nation. Poverty was a way of life and famine was the main cause of death for these people. Just like in any war, it is the children that suffer the most from the seemingly never ending strife and turmoil within the country. It was this struggle and suffering that South African photojournalist Kevin Carter managed to capture with his camera lens back in 1993.
Those familiar with the goings on of the war in Sudan know that by the time the photograph was taken, 1.3 million people in the Sudan had already died of hunger, disease or violence. Senseless deaths that were caused by the civil war between the Arab and Muslim dominated government in the north of the country and the mostly Christian animist, black rebel in the south. (Taylor, J, 1998) There were quite a number of photojournalists who were on the beat during this war. Most of them took decent and memorable photographs of the war torn country. However, none of them were able to come to par when it came to the lucky shot that Kevin Carter was lucky enough to have witnessed and captured on film the day that he came to visit Sudan in 1993.
The story behind this Pulitzer winning photograph is one which shall emotionally tug on the heartstrings of any man. Carter had flown in to Sudan as part of a UN Food Distribution group. He was on the ground for 30 minutes taking various photographs of everything that was going on around him. This photograph of a vulture hovering over an emaciated and almost dead child was a one in a million shot that he managed to capture on film. (Taylor, J, 1998) The New York Times bought the photograph from Carter and published it for the world to see. It struck a cord amongst the people of the world. Most people asking why he had not stopped to help the child. Although the picture was met with mixed reactions, the reality of the photograph is what won it the Pulitzer Prize in Photography for that year. This picture was the embodiment of the struggle that the Sudanese people faced on a daily basis. The child with barely any life in her clawing and crawling her way to the food center at the United Nations camp a mere kilometer away. The child was so near to salvation and yet so far and possible, too late to be helped because vultures are known to only circle around almost dead bodies, waiting for their prey to die so they can rip away the flesh for their own food. The vulture and the child. Both represent the two sectors of starving populations in the country, the people, and the animals struggle for suvival in what literally become a dog eat dog world for them. Both were starving and in need of food. But only one was sure to gain the sustenance it required sooner rather than later. If I didn’t have any background information about this picture, I could never imagine that the vulture is waiting for the child to die so that it can eat it. It was a scary and real thought for those who saw what was going on but the child, weakened by life struggles and barely alive, had no idea as to the fate that was awaiting her if she did not make it to the food camp in time. To this very day nobody knows if the child made it to the camp or if she became a casuality of the war time food chain. Though Carter had won the highest possible accolades for his excellent composition piece, the criticism and controversy that the picture created resulted in his becoming one of the most hated men in the world because he chose to take a picture of a tragedy rather than coming to the aid of the child in the hopes of preventing an even larger tragedy from occuring. Little did everyone know that this particular picture and all of the events that he had covered in South Africa